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17 de enero de 2016

The New Asana

Last September Asana founders Dustin Moskovitz and Justin Rosenstein launched the new Asana. The video recording, with a duration over half an hour, is so interesting that I cannot help sharing it here. I think it could represent which are the trends not only in Asana, but in the general landscape of collaborative software in 2016.

Cut 1/9: Tyranny of work about work. The problem: When we have to work together we spend more time working on how to work than working properly. Why is that? We need to focus more on results and less on processes based on emails, files, messages, meetings, etc.

Cut 2/9: Asana mission. Dustin and Justin released the first Asana prototype as a result of a project to improve the productivity of employees at Facebook. They realized that task collaboration was a global need and founded their own startup in 2008. In October 2015, Asana is used by more than 140000 companies of every kind, big and small, all over the world, in each industry (retail, internet, media, NGOs, technology, etc.)

Cut 3/9: Customer experience at BirchboxBirchbox is a quickly expanding make up products firm based in New York. Thanks to Asana they have been able to avoid bureaucracy and silo effect in favor of empowerment and agility.

Cut 4/9: Customer experience at PossiblePossible is a NGO aimed to medical sustainable support based in New York and Boston, with more than 300 volunteers using Asana to track medical care for patients in depressed regions.

Cut 5/9: Asana business. Having a freemium business model in which most users don't pay, in 2015 Asana had a revenue of 10 million dollars growing by factor 2.3. They recently hired Chris Farinacci as head of business, coming from Google.

Cut 6/9: Announcement #1 UX redesign. The new user interface is improved with more simplicity (features appearing when needed), more clarity (improved navigation, color coding red=create, blue=execute, green=complete) and energy metaphors (flashings, animations to celebrate, etc.)

Cut  7/9: Announcement #2 Conversations. It is now possible to manage conversations inside a project, creating tasks on the go, improving integration between conversations and tasks.

Cut 8/9: Announcement #3 Track Anything: This feature will be released by February-March 2016? Users will be able to add new fields inside tasks, manage lists with customized columns and new features for searching (also filtering, grouping, notifications, dashboards, etc.). Programmers will have a new API to build new customized extensions to Asana.

Cut 9/9: New branding

From my point of view, conversations have improved a lot. This has always been a kind of Achilles’ heel in Asana. Team members need to communicate outside tasks. This was already possible within a workspace, but this was too wide. Now it is possible to communicate within a project and that's great! Being a big advance, however, I think this is not enough to become a self contained collaborative working environment. Most people prefer specialized communication tools like Slack, which is connected to Asana, by the way.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing of the new Asana is the feature of “track anything”. They sell it as making Asana“something as easy to use as a spreadsheet, but as powerful as a database. Keeping aside the issue of the big challenge in programming, architecture and processing capacity needed to provide such an open feature to a huge number of active users (millions), I think this is an ambitious and strategic leap. Could Asana become a threat to many existing SaaS products? Could it become a kind of a new framework to build cloud enterprise software? We will have to follow closely this interesting innovation.

Click here to read the Spanish version of this article
Click the label English to see the other articles written in English